Former asylum seeker case worker appalled by email from MP Andrew Laming

APPALLED: Former case worker on Manus Island Vicki Schofield was gobsmacked by an email response from MP Andrew Laming. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough
APPALLED: Former case worker on Manus Island Vicki Schofield was gobsmacked by an email response from MP Andrew Laming. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

A FORMER case worker on Manus Island is appalled at a response from Bowman MP Andrew Laming to an email she wrote him about asylum seekers.

Vicki Schofield said she wrote to Mr Laming regarding the refugee resettlement deal between Australia and the Obama administration.

Mr Laming replied: “Sorry, but nice try”.

The Thornlands resident said she was gobsmacked at the response.

“Personally I find it appalling that an elected member finds it okay to speak to a constituent with such contempt,” she said.

Ms Schofield said in her initial email to Mr Laming that it was past time the government took action as the US Trump administration would not honour the 11th hour deal to accept asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru.

“These men, women and children have been incarcerated for nearly four years in appalling conditions,” she wrote. “I call upon you as my local member to stand up and call for action. Close the camps. Bring them here.”

Mr Laming told the Bulletin he would not take any nonsense from email campaigns out of Labor-Party associated websites.

Ms Schofield had received his response within 60 seconds of contacting him; “something that no other MP in the nation does”.

“Unfortunately for Vicki, I am siding with the huge majority of Australians who want tough borders, no more boats, nor drownings at sea,” he said.

“Those taking the view that Australia is not a port of convenience for people smugglers will be delighted with my reply.”

Ms Schofield said she had not sent the email through any Labor-affiliated website and a constituent deserved a suitable response fitting Mr Laming’s position.

Ms Schofield wrote back to Mr Laming, asking if he was serious.

“Is this truly your response to a constituent of your electorate who took the time to sit and write to you? A constituent I might add who pays your salary,’’ she said.

Mr Laming replied, saying he was a straight talker and understood that was not for everyone.

He told the Bulletin he had been a huge supporter of the Australia-US relationship and was confident the refugee agreement would hold.

“That is why my response to Vicki was punchy and humorous. It was a … nice try by Vicki but in the end a futile one to assume that Australia and the US would not be working closely together for mutual benefit.”

Ms Schofield, who worked on Manus Island for two years, said the asylum seekers had suffered the most tremendous torture in their home country.

They hoped for a good outcome but were left disappointed as they sat for years in camps. “They have got nothing to look forward to and have got nothing to go back to.”